When Addison Russell arrived at Wrigley Field on Aug. 7 of last year, he found his name at shortstop in the lineup against the San Francisco Giants.
It wasn’t a secret that Russell had more than enough talent for the position, but since being called up to the Majors in late April of 2015 he had been playing at second due to Starlin Castro already taking the shortstop position.
A lot has happened for the Chicago Cubs young star since last August. Not only is he now the dominant starter at the position with Castro playing for the New York Yankees, Russell was the starting shortstop for the National League in this year’s All-Star game.
“I’ve got an All-Star Game under my belt, a few more months of experience,” Russell told reporters. “Overcoming all that adversity early on has made me a pretty strong player already. I’m learning more and more as time goes on. The whole experience has been awesome. Even though it’s been a short amount of time, I’ve gained so much knowledge in that short amount of time.”
It wasn’t easy for Russell to make the switch to second last year but determined to stay in the big league, Russell put in the hard work required. That effort has payed off as Russell now is one of the key ingredients of the Cubs offense.
After spending most of the 2015 season batting 9th in the order because of Joe Maddon batting the pitcher 8th, Russell now takes the 5th or 6th spot in the lineup. Anthony Rizzo is the only North Sider with a higher percentage than Russell’s .261 when runners are in scoring position.
Russell led the Cubs with 22 RBIs throughout the month of July and is currently third in the National League for RBIs when playing at home. Russell and Rizzo are the first cubbies duo to each have 20 RBIs in the month of July since 2010 when Aramis Ramirez and Geovany Soto were still swinging the bat in Chicago.
Through the rest of the 2016 season, Russell will probably see a lot more time batting at the 5th and 6th spot in the lineup. The Cubs have a record of 7-5 when Russell bats 5th and 11-6 when batting 6th.